This week I ranted on Facebook about some of the frustrations that I felt in the last month. Things just weren’t working! My internet couldn’t get set up for 26 days, so I had to run back and forth to the library to get work done. We get a washing machine and it doesn’t work. I send out resumes and called every single mental health service provider in town and only get volunteering opportunities (maybe). And then I call other entry level jobs and find out that I am “over qualified” or “do not have enough experience”. How do you even get experience for entry level jobs?
I remember one day I woke up early to go to the gym only to spend an hour shovelling the foot of snow that was blocking my car. Later that day, I had to shovel again. An ache started to strap around my heart and chest area. I felt surges of anger coming up from pent up frustration that I’ve been putting aside.
But is anger a bad thing?
Anger is such a powerful word. We’ve all experienced it before or seen it. We’ve seen people drive in anger. We’ve thrown things or broken things out of anger. Typically, anger has a pretty bad rap.
However, to dismiss anger as bad has caused
anxiety, guilt, and suppression of anger. To that I say, “how has it worked for
We are in a time where people are starting to pay a lot more attention to their emotions. Pixar’s movie Inside Out did a great job of showing anger as one of the core emotions necessary to understand yourself.
In other words, the answer to the question is this: There is a difference between good and bad anger. Or, there is a difference between immature anger and mature anger.
When do you get angry? Someone cut you in
line? Someone hurt you?
Anger is actually an indicator of what matters to you. Anger is a protective measure for what you hold sacred or good.
For example, if you’re angry at your boss for mistreating you, it’s because at your core you know that you deserve to be treated fairly. Anger fights back against injustice.
I just finished reading a biography of Bonhoeffer, a pastor in Germany during WWII who conspired to have Hitler assassinated. The book portrays a kind-hearted generous and humorous man. Yet, Hitler was destroying the nation he loved, distorting the gospel he lives for, and killing innocent people everywhere. Bonhoeffer had anger, but his anger was controlled. His anger was specific. His anger led him to act courageously and speak up and do things others were to afraid to do. To the last moment of his life before he hung at the gallows, he peacefully ministered to others. He was not a man characterized by anger, but as a man who used anger well.
To summarize- anger is good when:
- It is controlled
- It is specific
- It protects something good
- It leads to courage
- It brings out authority
According to a study in the UK, 1 in 10 people struggles with controlling their anger. A staggering 1 in 5 individuals has ended relationships or friendships because of how someone acted in anger. 84% agree that someone should seek help if they have problems with anger.
Good anger is specific like a surgeon cutting into a body to remove cancer. Bad anger is explosive like trying to remove that same cancer with a sledge hammer. Bad anger is when you’re scared of a spider so you try to burn it and end up burning your whole home.
I was in Bali when I heard an argument break out between a couple. They were at a table of friends in the middle of a restaurant. The man ended up screaming at her at full volume with venomous looking eyes . Kathleen (my wife) said, “I really hope that he just lost a girlfriend.” I agree, there is no reason for a woman to ever feel that kind of humiliation in front of her friends. This is a case of misused anger.
To summarize- anger is bad when:
- It is generalized
- It is not controlled
- It destroys more than intended (physical objects, or relationships)
- It causes you to do cowardly things (like beat someone weaker than you)
- It leads to guilt, fear, anxiety, and bad health
Know the difference.
did I do with my frustrations this week?
When you’re angry, it’s easy to do a few things. You could start taking it out on something or someone. You could hide it, only to have it come back out. You could try to escape and numb your anger but that leads to addictions, guilt, and more anger.
These were the exact steps I had to go through this week to regain composure.
Breathing - The first thing I noticed was my shortness of breath. Before I even started thinking about where this anger is coming from I just started to regulate my breath. Breathe in deep, hold the breath and let it out slowly. There are many things in this world that frustrates us that we cannot control. We can’t control if it snows today, or if you have a job. You can control how you breathe though, so start with this.
Remember that anger is not a bad thing, listen to it- I had to remind myself that there’s a reason why I have this emotion. I had to feel it and know it. I am frustrated with parts of my current situation and that’s because I want to be settled in, connected and working a ‘normal’ job. I had to make a plan and think of what I CAN do rather than frustrate myself over what is out of control.
Talk it out- I could have lied to Kathleen and said I was fine when I walked in the house. But I told her that my heart felt like it was being squeezed. We talked it out , I have an ally to speak truth to me when I need it.
Rest- Being wise as she is, she made me take a nap. It makes a big difference you know.
Thankfulness- I started to list out all the things I’m frustrated about, and also what I have to be thankful for.
No internet for 26 days. I was able to be focused whenever I worked. I had evenings off whether I liked it or not and it kept a healthy balance in life. Less screen time, more evening walks.
Washing machine didn’t work? I got it for
free anyhow. I have more than enough clothes to last me, and my family lives
close enough I can use their machine. How lucky am I?
Having no job stinks. Let’s face it. But I have an amazing house near the lake, I have good food on the table, I have clothes, a car to drive in, and opportunities opening up for me. Maybe this is a motivator to build my private practice without the distraction of another job?
Snow. My workouts are multiplied, how many more squats and deadlifts did I do that day? I have an able body. My car looks like it has an ice armour and in the case of zombie apocalypse, none of them would be in Barrie because their flesh would be frozen.
So take that anger, I subdued you and I am your master.